Phil Chan likes to get his hands dirty on the pie line.
“But I’m not just a pizza man,” said the new Domino’s Pizza manager.
The 23-year-old is also an up-and-coming businessman.
It’s kind of surprising, said Chan.
“I was a rough and tough guy and a football player.”
Fresh out of high school, in Dawson Creek, Chan jumped into the construction industry, getting his level-two carpentry.
He stayed in the building business for three years.
“But I realized it was not something I could keep doing all my life,” he said. “So I decided to follow the family business.”
Chan’s parents and his older brother were in the franchise field, with a number of Subways and Domino’s in small towns in BC and Alberta.
Chan ended up in Aldergrove working in one of his brother’s Domino’s, when he was suddenly “thrown into the shark tank.”
The manager was fired and Chan was asked to step up.
“If I failed I was going to really fail,” he said. “But it turned out not bad.”
Then the franchise in Whitehorse came up for sale, and the two brothers decided to buy the business together.
“Weather-wise it’s not that different from Dawson Creek,” said Chan, standing in his sparkling pizza shop on Tuesday morning.
“It just becomes winter a little sooner and lasts a little longer.”
It’s Chan’s first business venture.
“I was giddy and nervous,” he said.
Chan took over the local business on October 11, after giving the pizza place a makeover.
The walls are a fresh new yellow, while the front counter is a rich blue.
It’s all part of the chain’s plan to refurbish all its restaurants by 2020.
Chan has a new sign coming too.
And he’s changed Domino’s hours.
Instead of opening at 4 p.m., Chan is also hitting the lunch crowd by pushing his hours back to 11 a.m.
But the biggest change has been in his employees.
“When I came it was like a playground,” said Chan. “It didn’t seem like a professional workplace.”
Part of the problem was the delivery drivers, who would stand around in the back and joke around until they got a delivery.
Now, Chan has his drivers on the pizza line, when they aren’t driving.
“It took a while to get them convinced, but now they’re having fun,” said Chan, who kept as many of the former staff as he could.
Having fun is part of Chan’s approach to management.
“We have competitions to see how fast we can fold boxes, or get pizzas in the oven,” he said.
As a younger guy, it’s easy to create a fun atmosphere and get chummy with the staff, he said.
“This keeps moral high.
“And people have no problem listening to you when it’s time to get down to work.”
When Chan was first learning the managerial ropes in Aldergrove, his parents provided a lot of support.
“They would spend hours on the phone with me,” he said.
Now, this education is paying off.
Since taking over the business, Domino’s has become busier and more efficient, he said.
“The focus is building a team that performs well and makes good pizzas in amazing times,” said Chan.
And if something is wrong with an order, or the pizza is late, Chan makes sure to call and apologize and offers his customers freebies.
“We focus on good customer service,” he said.
During a high pie hour, Chan can watch more than 50 pizzas move through his new ovens in under an hour.
But he never stresses speed over safety when it comes to his drivers.
“I say, speed on your feet, not on the street,” he said.
A good friend of Chan’s ended up in a very serious car crash delivering pizza from another Domino’s where he worked.
“It’s such a team environment, the drivers want to get it there on time,” said Chan.
“But there is no way your life or car, or another person’s life is worth more than a late pizza.”
Chan arrive in Whitehorse in October, just a few days before taking over Domino’s.
He’s an avid snowboarder and has joined the local shooting club, but he hasn’t had time to do either yet.
Right now, Chan’s living and breathing pizza, spending upwards of 10 hours a day at the shop, seven days a week.
“I am really enjoying it,” he said.
“I like working with all sorts of people and meeting so many different customers.”
And when things get really busy, Chan tells his staff to shove over, and joins the pizza line.
Because it’s a franchise, Chan can’t change the menu, but customers may notice some changes all the same.
“We’re adding a little more toppings, and a lot more care,” he said.
Contact Genesee Keevil at